Maybe, you don’t know yet the incredible voice of ASGEIR. On stage, this singer from Iceland shines. Last concert in Paris sold out – Nouveau Casino – and a endless world tour to share his music with everyone.
Asgeir Trausti surprised us, his songs touched us all in different ways. We wanted to learn more about his album In The Silence, his inspiration and thes songs, King and Cross and Torrent which haunt us from the moment we first listen to them.
United States of Paris: What surprises you most since Iceland and the world listen to your songs?
Asgeir: First, it was just how people reacted to the music and how fast everything happened in the beginning, because I never believed in what I was doing. It still surprises me that more and more people are liking the music everyday and also the fact that a lot of people outside of Iceland seem to prefer the Icelandic version of the album, witch means that although you don’t understand anything in the language people can still connect to the music.
What was your first desire or wish for this album, before recording it?
My desire was just being able to record some of my songs with good sound and in a proper studio, and then when it was decided to release something I was hoping to sell maybe 300 copies to the people around me.
We want to know everything about Torrent. The writing, the recording.
The emotion of singing it for the first time for yourself. And after, on stage.
I wrote the song about a year before we started recording the album and at the time I was working at a hotel in my hometown and had recently met a girl, and I wanted to try and impress her by writing a song for her, well mostly just that I could play a few instruments, so I went home and started playing the piano and this is what came to mind first. Then I recorded the piano, drums, guitars and then the vocals, in that order ! Once the demo was ready I gave it to her. Then a year later we started recording the album and this was one of the songs chosen for the album. And like with most of the songs I had the help from a lot of great musicians that really gave the music what it needed to be complete. Like with all of the songs the songwriting and lyric process was quite separate, and in this case my dad wrote the lyrics, which are about inner war that you fight in your own mind and is the toughest in cold and dark nights, when we did the English translation the American musician John Grant translated the song.The song is really wide vocally and has a lot of strong harmonies that make the song of what it is. Its one of the most difficult songs to sing live, and the harmony part is backed up by Julius Robertsson who sings backup vocals with me.
What can you tell us about the track King and Cross ?
This is a song that was originally called Leyndarmal, Secret in English, and it was a song that I never thought should be on the album because I didn’t think it fitted to the atmosphere of the record. In the end it made all sense and it was the second single released in Iceland. It really helped with the success of this project in Iceland. It was the first single released outside of Iceland and has been getting the most attention of all the songs on the album. When we recorded the song my dad wrote lyrics to two verses and the chorus, but when recording the vocal parts I felt the song needed another verse, and at the time no one knew about me in Iceland and I felt it didn’t really matter what we were doing, so in the process of recording the vocal parts Julius (the other lyricist for the album) was in the studio and we just sat down in the kitchen for ten minutes and wrote something down that could fit to the rest of the lyric to be able to finish the song, and in the end that was the lyric that was used. So the lyrics is written by both my dad and Julius. Again, this song was translate to English by John Grant.
During the recording of your album, did an accident happen? A good accident? Something strange which became essential?
One could be that Leyndarmal (King and cross) was chosen to be a song on the album, because it has played a big role for this project. Also there was a synthesizer, a Korg Delta in the studio that I had never played before and some songs were written on that synth, like the first song, Higher.
When was the greatest emotion you ever felt performing music?
It’s hard to say, and really no way to point any one thing out. It’s always changing and the things you are hearing can be so different. I remember going to church as a young boy and listening to my mom controlling the choir and being blown away, also going to Sigur Ros concerts when I was younger and being really inspired. Also just different musicians that you hear along the way.
Which singers inspire you?
Jonsi (Sigur Ros), Al Green, Jeff Buckley, Justin Vernon, Thom Yorke, Peter Gabriel. More recently Viktor Taiwo, Thundercat, James Blake.
What is the best lesson you got from your father?
His biggest part in my life is probably that he has always believed in what I am doing and encouraged me to keep working on my music.
Is this one of your fans told you a story about his or her special relationship with one of your songs?
What comes first to mind is just a lot of Icelanders that live outside of Iceland and when they listenhear some of my songs, like Going home they really miss being home (in Iceland).
Iceland is a dream for many Frenchies. What amazing things can happen in Iceland?
Many amazing things can happen in Iceland, The things that move people the most is first of all just the nature and the energy it brings. Also the northern lights that you can see in the winter time when its really cold, weather conditions and that its bright day and night in mid-summer and dark both day and night in the winter time.
Our team will be in Iceland, for the first time, this year. What is your best advice for exploring your country?
Just to see Reykjavik and find out how relaxed it is there and easy to go around, maybe see some concerts? The most beautiful place in my opinion is my home area, in the north west side, drive around Hrutafjordur and midfordur. It’s also really nice in the east around Egilsstadir, Neskaupsstadur. If you have a car, just drive around the whole country, it’s all beautiful!
May Paris inspire you to write a song? Which song?
Well maybe in the future but I haven’t really had the time to explore the city as I would have wanted. I’ve been there around four times already but always just stayed for one or two days, and been really busy on those days. But after a few weeks we’re planning on going there again and hopefully get some more time to see the city.
What is the craziest thing you did in Paris?
I’m not sure about the craziest, but we went to see Jim Morrison’s grave at Pere Lachaise Cemetery. That will always be a lasting memory.
ASGEIR, album In the Silence